June 17, 2024

On World Food Day, U.N. Warns of Ebola Food Crisis

Today is World Food Day. The U.N. said that the Ebola crisis in Africa is causing a food crisis. The U.N.’s World Food Program (WFP) needs to reach 1.3 million people in need of food in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea, the hardest-hit regions in the outbreak. That agency has supplied more than half a million people in those areas with food.

warning recall signDenise Brown, WFP’s Regional Director for West Africa said in a statement, “the world is mobilizing and we need to reach the smallest villages in the most remote locations. Indications are that things will only get worse before they improve. How much worse depends on us all.”

Border closures, market closures, and restricted travel threaten food access to many in the region. The WFP provides food to patients at Ebola treatment facilities and to those who have gone through mandatory quarantine. Many who have had the disease and survived are not welcome back at their homes; this agency is also feeding them.

In Lofa County, Liberia, food costs went up from 30 to 75% in August alone. Forty percent of farms in Sierra Leone have been abandoned. Trade volume may be half of what it was last year at this time. The Famine Early Warning Network (FEWS NET) warns that if Ebola cases continue to climb, o ver the next foods months large populations would “face moderate to extreme food consumption gaps.”

The factors in play in this situation are availability of food in local markets, reduced incomes, and harvest seasons, especially rice, being below average. Social stigma can further affect those households with a family member who has died from the disease. Staple foods in most households will deplete sometime in the first quarter of 2014.

The first-ever U.N. emergency health mission, the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response is sending supplies and material to the affected countries. The U.N. is constructing warehouses that will be used in the supply chain for future aid and food delivery in Sierra Leone and Guinea.

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